Relocating With Young Ones
Children love routines and familiarity, and nothing is more familiar to them than their home, which provides a sense of security and comfort. But the reality is that many families with young children will pack up their belongings and relocate this year. In fact, records show that about 43 million Americans move each year. Those moves can be a source of concern and anxiety for children.
Here are some simple steps that can help ease your children's fears and make the move more enjoyable for the entire family:
Moving With a Child
- Be sure to talk. Make sure to include children in the discussions about the move, and focus on the things you know – where you will move and why you are moving. And be sure to update children as other answers become available, such as when the real estate sign is going in the yard, when the move will take place and what the new home and town will be like. Don't forget that your attitude will determine your children's feelings about the move – if you're positive, they will be positive. If you seem fearful and anxious, so will they. Continually remind them of the positive aspects of the move.
- Share the work. Children respond better to situations in which they feel they have some control or at least a role. Make them a part of the moving process by letting them help pack and decorate their own boxes, assist in planning the route the family will take to the new home and allowing them to have input on the decor of their new room.
- Say goodbye and hello. Before the move, give your children an opportunity to spend time with their friends to say goodbye. Mayflower has a special moving kit for children that includes fun cards that kids can use to exchange address information with friends. If possible, take the children to see their new home and neighborhood in advance. Introducing your children to their new neighbors will reassure them that they will make new friends after the move. If it is not possible to go to your new neighborhood, try to compile as much information about the area as you can. The Internet can offer a wealth of resources. Also, try to get a couple of photographs of your new home and surroundings (ask your real estate agent to help), and share all of the information with your children.
- Get involved. One of the best ways to make new friends and adjust to new surroundings is to get involved in extracurricular activities. Even if you're moving in the middle of a season, don't sit on the sidelines. Many sports leagues, community kids' clubs and classes specific to your children's interests will keep them busy and make them feel more at home in their new surroundings.
Moving With a Toddler or Baby
- Keep the language simple. Remember, toddlers don't understand the difference between a month and a minute, so they only need to know that the family is moving soon. Reassure your young ones that they are moving with the family to calm fears of being left behind.
- Maintain routines. As much as possible, try to maintain your baby/toddler's feeding and sleeping schedule. This will help reduce stress for everyone because there will be some predictability to the day, and the young one is less likely to be cranky.
- Be patient. All parents know that patience is key in raising young children, but it is especially important during this time of change. Be tolerant of disturbing symptoms you may see in your child as a result of the new environment and give your kids a little extra attention.
- Get help. Using a professional moving company can greatly minimize your responsibilities, so you can devote more time to your children. You may also want to hire a babysitter on the move-in day, so you can focus on the task at hand. If you don't know anyone to hire as a babysitter, have one parent or adult in charge of the children and another parent or adult in charge of the move.
- Clear the area. Toddlers can get underfoot in a busy moving atmosphere, so try to have them in an area away from the movers. Choose a room that the movers won't be going into or take them to play in the backyard or a park until the move-in is complete.